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Style Notes

The Importance of the Pocket

I don’t know about you but I love a pocket in a dress, not so I can ‘store’ anything in them, but just to put one hand in. I mean, what do you do with your hands if you don’t have a pocket or a glass of fizz when you are milling round at an event?? A pocket in a dress just makes the look that bit cooler so for that reason all our styles are made with that all important pocket discreetly hidden in the side seams, to give your feminine look that little bit of modern attitude…
It did get me thinking though, why do some dresses have pockets and others don’t and do other people like pockets or is it just me? So, I started googling and found it absolutely amazing what I found. Did you know there are actually websites giving instructions on how to add a pocket to a dress that doesn’t have one? There is also a website (called pocketocracy) whose sole purpose is to highlight brands that include pockets in their designs, there is such a demand for this small but important feature!
I also discovered that historically there is a really interesting story to the use of pockets and that it has always been a topic of great interest or should I say debate with men’s clothing generally always having a good functional pocket and women’s clothing lacking this functionality for many years. It’s good to note here that we perhaps wouldn’t have the purse/clutch bag today if this hadn’t been the case though so silver linings and all!

      
A brief history of the pocket:

Pockets have been a part of fashion and ingrained in society for the last 400 years since the 17th century. Although according to London’s V&A museum women’s clothing didn’t really have internal pockets for most of history. Instead they had purse like items and makeshift pockets that were worn or hung under their dresses making them difficult to access until they added slits into the sides of their voluminous skirts at the time. The pockets were often attached through strings or small belts and the size of these pockets varied. The women used these makeshift pockets for anything from storing trinkets to gin and sometimes even cakes! However, many pockets were stolen – in the 18th and 19th centuries, thieves known as ‘pickpockets’ removed men’s wallets and cut the strings of women’s pockets and there are many court cases documented over this period with detailed discussion on the said ‘pockets’ stolen.
Fashion historian Barbara Burman wrote a whole book on pockets called Pockets of History: The Secret Life of an Everyday Object, and she touched on the pocket situation for women commenting “The frustrations and limitations of women’s access to money and ownership of property were neatly mirrored in the restricted scope of their pockets”. According to the Victoria and Albert Museum, in the mid- to late-1800s, women started to rebel with dress patterns adding instructions for sewing pockets into skirts advertising it is being an independent woman. Women also started to take their pocket rights back in the early 1900s when they started wearing pants and with both World Wars came a boom of utilitarian clothing for women who were now working in many of the previously male service and labouring roles so there was a requirement for more ‘practical’ clothing including functional pockets.

Obviously today the majority of women’s clothing carry a pocket so most coats, jackets, trousers, jeans etc however pockets are often left out of a garment for design purposes. For example, if the dress is bodycon or the jeans are so skinny a pocket will be unflattering. This I totally understand, no one wants a pocket that is going to add any bulk to your hip area so the construction, position and size of said pockets is very important. We have really considered this in the design and construction of our dresses even down to the fact you also don’t want to be able to see the pocket bag. They need to be discreet to work properly in a dress but are so worth having in terms of finishing you whole look.

The age old debate to pocket or not to pocket lives on but in a very different form to 400 years ago and more in terms of a personal or design preference, you know my opinion now however I would love to hear your view on this so please do get in touch and let us know what you think and if you like to have a pocket, hate a pocket or if it had never really been something you had considered before.

A Heart For Business – Partnering with The Girls’ Network

Working in the fashion industry for a larger retailer when the going got tough or something went wrong, which it often did, we always used to have the saying ‘we are not saving lives we are just making clothes’ and at the end of the day it is so true! So how, when my passion and new business plan was still ‘just making clothes’, could I possibly make a difference?

Obviously creating a brand and product that delivered very happy customers was a good place to start. There is something to be said for that feeling of happiness and confidence that buying a new dress, that is totally gorgeous, covers all your criteria and fits you perfectly gives. That million dollar feeling every time you put it on and the compliments that make you feel on top of the world. I love the fact that my brand could possibly give lots of women that feeling however this still did not seem enough and I knew I wanted to do more, to give something back to make it all worthwhile.

Linking up with a charity seemed like the best way to give something back, however which one?  There are so many amazing charities to choose from, so how was I going to pick one and what was the connection? Again, I was still looking for something meaningful where I could really make a difference so I started a list and realised it consisted of all the very well known charities that had a lot of support and my start up brands contribution would be a drop in the ocean to begin with.

I then came across an article in the Stylist magazine that really captured my attention…

‘When Mentoring Becomes a Feminist Movement’ Becca Dean & Charly Young with their mission to unleash the potential of disadvantaged girls, why mentoring is the movement we should get involved in. 

www.thegirlsnetwork.org.uk

‘Unlimited futures for all young women’

As I read the article I realised this was the perfect partnership, for years I have been dressing professional and established women and wanting to offer them that outfit that gives them the confidence boost to go out and take on the world, so helping girls to realise their potential that may not have the confidence or the backing they need to go out into that big world felt like the perfect fit. I also hoped it would spark engagement and interest with you as my customers, as you may have daughters younger or of a similar age and therefore feel a strong connection with the work that Becca and Charly were doing with their charity The Girls’ Network.

Their mission is to inspire and empower girls from the least advantaged communities by connecting them with a mentor and a network of positive female role models. They believe that all girls have the right to be able to access the best opportunities available, and should not be limited by their gender or where they come from. They believe all girls should be able to set high aspirations, to discover their self-worth and to develop their capacity to shape their world. If they cannot see any women doing a job they aspire to, then its very difficult to believe that they can get there themselves.

The beauty of the charity is that I could also sign up as a mentor and try and use some of my experience to directly help one of these girls, so I wouldn’t just be sitting back and making donations and feeling like I had done my bit I would be able to get fully involved with the great work they were doing. I am now fully signed up and waiting to be paired up with my future Mentee and the plan is that I will work with them over the next year, with 10 sessions, and help them to figure out where and what they want to be and support them with how they can do it. There are some huge decisions to be made at a point they are still so young and without support in their own lives they may feel like they have no options.

I am so excited to be working with this charity as well as offering a donation with every sale we make, which as a start up in the beginning will maybe not be the biggest amount however is a step in the right direction and to me is a meaningful collaboration, which as my business hopefully grows, will grow and will also hopefully spread the word about this amazing charity

The statistics:

*60,000 more girls than boys are not in education employment or training

*Only 33% of girls feel confident about their future

*50% of girls on the programme had no close relatives or family who have attended University (parents or siblings)

*Between 75-95% of the girls on the programme increased resilience, confidence, motivation and self belief

The success of The Girls’ Network comes from the energy and commitment of hundreds of women and girls who are brought together through the charity to inspire one another and change futures

www.smartworks.org.uk

‘Get the clothes. Get the confidence. Get the job’

I have also decided to support Smart works charity which helps women back into work by not only styling and dressing candidates for interview but also providing them with interview practise and coaching, as we receive so many samples as part of the development process we will be donating any samples no longer required to the charity to support the great work they are doing getting women back into work, as I said earlier the importance of dressing women and making them feel amazing is still important and this charity is actually ‘saving lives’ or turning lives around by dressing them

I think both charities have an amazing ethos and women helping and supporting other women has always been something I have been passionate about. Please do take a look at these great charities and support them if you can.

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